Robert Dada’s Top 15 Albums Of 2017

Posted: December 23, 2017 in Music

This is the first year that I expanded the ranking to 15 from 10 but with 30 contenders in total, it was pretty much impossible to whittle this down to 10.  Here goes:

#15. Marilyn Manson: Heaven Upside Down

Marilyn Manson is back in a major way since 2015’s (and in my top 10 of that year) “The Pale Emperor”.  This time around, he’s leveraged his regained relevance and married it with his great works from the late 90’s and early 2000’s. It’s no “Antichrist Superstar” or Mechanical Animals” but it’s still very strong and a wonderful return to form.



Pitchfork Review

#14. Chrome: Techromancy

Ever since Helios Creed joined the band, Chrome has been a massive force in psychedelic, sci-fi fueled industrial rock. This band should have been huge if there was any justice in the world.

Once again, they have released another slab of brilliance though it’s not on par with 2013’s “Half Machine From The Sun” and 2014’s “Feel It Like A Scientist”.  I still play it often though, especially when on the road.


DME Review

#13. The Heliocentrics: A World Of Masks

I love discovering bands whose work I previously did not know about and “A World Of Masks” from The Heliocentrics is a stellar example. This album is equal parts crooner/blues, acid jazz, psychedelic rock and trip hop at the same time. A lot of it feels like drug induced film noir and weirded out classic science fiction. I’d love to throw this on while discussing anything with William S. Burroughs or J.G. Ballard.

This is a great “after the sun goes down” album after good people have gone to sleep and are dreaming and the denizens of the dark rainy urban jungle emerge to share drinks and other substances.


Pop Matters Review

#12. Primus: The Desaturating Seven

From Wikipedia: The Desaturating Seven is a concept album based on the children’s book The Rainbow Goblins, written by Italian author of children’s books, Ul de Rico. Les Claypool used to read the book to his children when they were younger, and was fascinated and inspired by the book’s vibrant artwork and use of colors. Claypool always felt the book’s story would make a fascinating musical project, and eventually approached his fellow band members about recording original music based on the story of the book.

It has a much more progressive feel to it than other Primus albums so it gives the whole work a sense of freshness when compared to the rest of their catalog.  Great album for night time road trips.


Cryptic Rock Review

#11. In The Nursery: 1961

The sound on their latest release harkens a bit back to their earlier sound of post-punk electronic/industrial material. The album is dark and somewhat gloomy but never veers into ‘sappy goth’ like you sometimes get with artists going way too far to depict the dark side.

The link below does a great job of describing this work. Though I’ve loved these guys since the 80’s this release is one of their best in years.


The Quietus Review

#10. The Dream Syndicate: How Did I Find Myself Here?

With their first album of new material since 1988, The Dream Syndicate released a masterpiece that will be on heavy rotation for me. The guitars are loud and noisy, the bass is strong and yet all the vocals come through clearly in the mix. Some of it reminds me of REM if they were really good and yet some reminds me of The Velvet Underground / Lou Reed though the songs aren’t as ‘out there’.  This is a very worthy companion piece to 1982’s ‘The Days Of Wine And Roses’.

This is a nice album to play very loud at home or in the car. I was fortunate enough to see them on tour for this album and the songs hold up well in the live setting especially since they are all great musicians. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait almost 30 years again for the next album.


Pitchfork Review

#9. Roger Waters: Is This The Life We Really Want?

This is Roger’s first solo album in about 24 years.  I don’t know if it was Brexit, the Trump election or the general rise of nationalism/populism in mainland Europe but something got Roger fired up here.

I honestly think this album is his best since Pink Floyd and it fits in well with Pink Floyd’s catalog (I can attest to this after seeing him live twice this year).   Consequence of Sound said the album “is easily the most accessible of Waters’ solo work—a distillation in many regards of the anti-fascist, anti-imperialist, anti-greed messages he’s been broadcasting since Pink Floyd.” Pitchfork said the album’s “myriad sonic references to his work with Pink Floyd suggest that Waters is comfortable with his past. The more you accept how much his past reflects in his present, the more receptive you’ll be to this album’s charms.”


Rolling Stone Review

#8. St. Vincent: Masseduction

For her 5th studio album, St. Vincent (Annie Clark) incorporates a more electronic sound throughout its 13 songs. Even though it peaked at #10 on the Billboard 200, none of it feels overly commercial or accessible though it does have many catchy and infectious rhythms with her futuristic pop sound.

Like 2014’s ‘St. Vincent’, ‘Masseduction’ is ending up on a lot critics best of lists this year. Arguably this is her best album as the songwriting is bolder and very accomplished. She’s potentially reaching for a wider audience but does so without compromising the quirkiness and originality of her previous works.  This is the most ‘commercial’ album to make my list but I never think of it that way when I listen to it. It proves that you can still release great music for the masses.


New York Times Review

#7. Clan Of Xymox: Days Of Black

I believe this is the 16th studio album (along with a slew of singles over the years) by Ronny Mooring’s Clan Of Xymox and though the sound is different than their first two albums, 1985’s ‘Clan Of Xymox’ and 1986’s ‘Medusa’, I find myself playing this as much as those two. If you like electro heavy, darkwave music, this comes highly recommended.

Though Ronny has been for quite some time, the only original member of the band, that doesn’t become an issue since all the work to date features his rich, deep vocals and melancholy guitar work. I can say that no new ground has been broken with this release but why mess with a formula that really works well?

This album works best at night, with low lights and the substance of your choice (the kind that relaxes you) while at the same time makes you want to take to the dance floor and dance within the multicolored lights, strobes and thick fog.


Cryptic Rock Review

#6. The Residents: The Ghost Of Hope

Per Wikipedia, this is The Resident’s 44th studio album since 1974 (and let’s not even go into the many more singles, EP’s, compilations, live albums and multimedia projects). I think it’s their best since 2008’s ‘Bunny Boy’.

Per their website:

“Following their long tradition of projects based on narrative themes, The Residents are pleased to announce the release of The Ghost of Hope, an historically accurate album based on train wrecks. Pursuing this theme in both a literal and metaphorical sense, the group discovered a series of vintage news articles highlighting the dangers of train travel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by the era’s elegant language, the group then contrasted that eloquence against the sheer horror of these devastating events, resulting in an album that sounds both startlingly new and curiously nostalgic. Using the familiar elements of music, spoken voice, sound effects and audio textures, The Residents have constructed a highly original series of tone poems quite unlike the music of anyone else – except, of course, The Residents.”

With the following tracks: ‘Horrors Of The Night’, ‘The Crash At Crush’, ‘Death Harvest’, ‘Shroud Of Flames’, ‘The Great Circus Train Wreck Of 1918’, ‘Train vs. Elephant’ (probably one of the greatest song titles ever), and ‘Killed At A Crossing’, this is one of the dark side Resident’s albums (Think of the ‘Hell’ compilation vs the ‘Heaven’ compilation).

Much of ‘The Ghost Of Hope’ returns us to an earlier Residents sound from the 80’s which I think was always their best overall period. The songs tend to be on the longer side (7 songs at 48 minutes) which gives them time to build to their inevitable climax without leaving you bored. They effectively use their equipment to capture the sounds of the railroads as well has creating an atmosphere of the past to allow the ‘stories’ to come through effectively.

In many ways but for different reasons, this album reminds me of Einsturzende Neubauten’s 2014 (and my #1 for that year) ‘Lament’.  It doesn’t sound anything like it but the overall sense of history being captured with the music is very compelling.


Louder Than War Review

#5. Richard H. Kirk: Dasein

Being either one third or one half (depending on what year you are looking at) of one of my favorite industrial / post-punk / electronic bands, Cabaret Voltaire, I’ve been following Richard H. Kirk’s work since the early 80’s. In addition to Cabaret Voltaire, he has quite an extensive body of work as a solo artist and I think Dasein is his best work (that I know of) as a solo artist.

Much of this album reminds me of early 80’s Cabaret Voltaire (think Red Mecca era, etc.) with a bit more percussion like mid to late 80’s work, without coming across as too danceable like their final works became.

Many of the 9 tracks start with minimal intros with successive layers of sounds building on top of one another. Dialog samples and/or distorted vocals again throws us back to the sound of classic Cabaret Voltaire.

With songs that have titles such as ‘Nuclear Cloud’, ‘New Lucifer / The Truth Is Bad’, ‘Radioactive Water’ and ‘Invasion Pretext’, the tone on this album is not upbeat by any measure though most of the tracks move along and groove once they really get started.

The final track, ‘Sub / Antarctic / H20’, is a slower, noisy, industrial/electronic track that is evocative of some of the soundtrack type work he and Cabaret Voltaire have done over the years. It moves along slowly with dense noise building and receding throughout. I don’t view it so much as a track to discern meaning out of it but more of an outro soundtrack piece that allows you to think about the 8 previous tracks you just heard.


The Quietus Review

#4. Gary Numan: Savage (Songs From A Broken World)

Like 2013’s release, ‘Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)’, ‘Savage’ is a dark album. But whereas ‘Splinter’ was more internally focused, ‘Savage’ is outwardly focused about a dystopian world in decay and civilization that has largely collapsed.  Though many tracks pound with synths, bass, and percussion, it does not take away from the overwhelming melancholia.

This album has a bit more personal relevance to me since I helped to crowd fund it as it was being recorded and produced. It was interesting to see and hear Gary throughout the process talking about the progress and letting us in a bit into the creative process.

Since I loved ‘Splinter’ so much, I was never expecting to be disappointed but I also didn’t think it could be better in a major way. Well, it is.

In ‘When The World Comes Apart’ he sings:

And when the sun fell down
And when the moon failed to rise
And when the world came apart
Where were you?
Were you with me?
When my light burns out
And when my fire is cold
And when my breath is the wind
Where will you be, dear God?

As I listen to this track and the album in general, my answer to the last question to the lyrics above are ‘Long Gone’.

This album is brilliant. If you are a Gary Numan fan, this is a must have. Even if you aren’t as familiar with his work over the years, this is a must have.


Electrozombies Review

#3. The Tear Garden: The Brown Acid Caveat

Earlier this year it was announced that the group would celebrate their 30th anniversary with the release of a new album, The Brown Acid Caveat. As some of you know, The Tear Garden is a psychedelic/experimental/electronic band, formed by Edward Ka-Spel of The Legendary Pink Dots and cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy in 1985. Their work over the years has often caught them taking the very best of both of those bands and fusing them into something uniquely its own.

This was another crowd sourcing album I participated in. I had no doubt in the world this album would be worth it, given past efforts as well as Edward and cEvin’s humongous output overall. As I suspected, I was not let down. Upon first listen I knew this album would probably end up in the top five of 2017. It was just a matter of what final ranking it would get.

Metropolis Records stated: “It’s been nearly 50 years since the first Brown Acid Caveat was issued to a million hippies in a field at the first Woodstock Festival. In these dark, more-knowing times The Tear garden felt it was the perfect moment to mark their 30th Anniversary with a similar warning.”

Clocking in at 1 hour, 17 minutes, the 12 tracks (none under 4 minutes and half over 7 minutes), drips with delicious psychedelia, with nice electronic beats to keep things moving and Edwards always phenomenal vocals and trippy lyrics.

Stand out tracks include ‘Strange Land’, ‘Calling Time’, (the hysterical) ‘Lola’s Rock’, ‘A Private Parade’ and ‘Seven Veils’, though there isn’t a weak track on the entire album. The album is paced nicely with the slower and more up-tempo songs complimenting each other. It’s often hard to believe this is a side project effort when most full-time bands couldn’t achieve the same level of quality even if they tried.


Reflections Of Darkness Review

#2. Wire: Silver/Lead

Silver/Lead is the sixteenth studio album by British post-punk band Wire. It was conceived to arrive in conjunction with the fortieth anniversary of Wire’s first gig as a four-piece band on 1 April 1977 at The Roxy in London. Though obviously one cannot like all albums from a band equally, ‘Silver/Lead’ is on a par with my very favorite Wire albums like ‘Pink Flag’, ‘154’, ‘The Ideal Copy’, ‘Red Barked Tree’ and ‘Wire’.

Why this band is not more popular continues to baffle me. They have influenced so many other artists who have gone on to successful careers. Big Black, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth and R.E.M. expressed a fondness for the group. R.E.M. covered ‘Strange’ on their album Document. Minor Threat covered ‘12XU’.  Henry Rollins covered ‘Ex-Lion Tamer’. Robert Smith has described how, after seeing the group live, Wire influenced The Cure’s sound after their first album.

Always wanting to support them in any way I can, I bought this album directly from them so they would receive the maximum return for my investment (yes, I consider great music to be an investment). In addition, I purchased the version that comes with a book describing each song and presenting their lyrics (though one will never get a clear translation from Graham Lewis on what any of his lyrics are about). That gave me an insight into what went into each song and how they were created which probably influenced the overall ranking.

I do have somewhat of a personal relationship with the band, having spent time with them before/after the 3 shows I’ve seen of them in Washington DC as well as contact through social media but that in no way influenced where I put this on the list. In fact, I would say that my opinion of the quality of their work over the decades (in addition to how kind they are) has made me want to get closer to them in the first place.

Though much of the material in my top 15 is not for the faint of heart or those who do not like to be challenged, Wire has almost always managed to deftly balance creative originality along with (yes) an accessible listening experience (of course my overall tastes are all over the place and way off the beaten path). To me, Silver/Lead is a perfect example of this.

I don’t know how many people even care about my annual best of lists but if I convince 5 people to dive into Wire, my work here has been rewarded. Dive!


The Quietus Review

#1. UUUU: s/t

UUUU is a new band featuring Graham Lewis, Thighpaulsandra, Matthew Simms and Valentina Magaletti. These musicians have been the forces behind Wire, Coil, Dome, He Said, etc.  This album is such a brilliant work that perfectly captures high experimentalism in music while still retaining some semblance of accessibility. Translate: You won’t ever find a single radio station (at least in the US) willing to play this stuff but there are still many cuts you can move to.

To me this is one of the most brilliant albums ever released, akin to Einsturzende Neubauten’s 2014 (and my top album of 2014) “Lament”. In other words, it’s an experimental album that I will play A LOT over the years. It’s really not for anyone who prefers traditional song structures but unlike some experimental records released over the years, it’s not at all akin something you like and appreciate but readily admit that it takes some effort to get through. I fell in love with it upon first listen. Like The Tear Garden, I am hoping this is a side project that will continue to release new material.

To illustrate how much this album moved me, my wife and I are flying over to London in January to see them perform live. This will clearly be the most expensive concert ever for us (trust me, there have been many costly concert trips) but I can’t miss out on this.  I for one, am eagerly anticipating how they are going to pull this off in a live setting. I give them the thumbs up for even trying.

Thank you UUUU for keeping the flame of experimentalism alive and well.  In a word, Bravo!


The Quietus Review

Honorable Mentions:

Bash And Pop – Anything Could Happen: The latest from Tommy Stinson’s latest project. Good straight ahead indie rock and way improved over 1993’s (yes it’s been that long between albums) ‘Friday Night Is Killing Me’.

One-Eyed Doll – Wicked: It would be in the top 10 but it’s an EP and does not qualify for my criteria. Great music though!

The Horrors – V: Great material but still inferior to ‘Primary Colours’ and ‘Skying’.  As a result, they are capable of better.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment Of Luxury: If 2017 wasn’t such a great year for albums, this would have made the top 15. Much of it reminds me of their early to mid 80’s work.  It still comes highly recommended.

Prophets Of Rage – Prophets Of Rage: I wanted to like this album more than I did. It’s got its moments but given where these guys come from, it could have been stronger.

KMFDM – Hell Yeah: Really strong material but it doesn’t really break any new ground for them. You kind of know in advance what you’re getting with KMFDM.

Chuck Berry – Chuck: Released when he was 90, I think this is his best effort since his glory days.

Prong – Zero Days: Not bad but they are capable of doing better. I will find myself going to other albums by them when I get in the mood to hear them.

Nine Inch Nails – Add Violence: I appreciate the experimentalism but again, it’s an EP and can’t qualify.

Daniel Ash – Freedom: One of his better solo efforts but not up to par with his work in Bauhaus, Love And Rockets or Tones On Tail. Those are pretty lofty goals though.

Robyn Hitchcock – Robyn Hitchcock: A bit better than 2014’s ‘The Man Upstairs’, which was also really good. A nice dive back into psychedelic rock.

Depeche Mode – Spirit: Their best album since 1990’s ‘Violator’.

Alice Cooper – Paranormal: Really fun stuff and great hard rock from a guy who has been doing this stuff since 1969. My first rock idol, he did not let me down this time.

Brian Eno – Reflection: A nice return to the ambient form but with just one cut clocking in at 54 minutes, it’s not the kind of thing you’re going to throw on frequently. A generative version of the album is available as an app that plays infinitely and changes the music at different times of the day; digital streaming versions of the album update on a seasonal basis. Eno is still one of the gods of experimentalism.

Body Count – Bloodlust: Similar to Prophets Of Rage, I wanted to like this album more than I did. I’m not disappointed that I bought it but I doubt it will ever be in heavy rotation.

X Marks The Pedwalk – Secrets: Lately they’ve released material that is easily on a part with their early 90’s stuff. Their influence on the electronic and industrial music scene is undeniable and it’s great to know they are still releasing new material.


Robert Dada’s Top 10 Albums Of 2016

Posted: December 27, 2016 in Music

#10. Preoccupations – Preoccupations

It was great when my Emusic membership account recommended this band to me because I never heard of them (or their previous incarnation, “Viet Cong”) before. Emusic must have me greatly profiled because this album lodged into my head like few others from bands I have never heard of before in 2016.

Very reminiscent of 80’s post-punk, a lot of it reminds me of a less poppy Jesus And Mary Chain, Joy Division/early New Order and especially the original lineup of The Danse Society.

Below is the link to the album review from Spin magazine:



#9. The Rolling Stones – Blue And Lonesome

If someone would have told me the Rolling Stones would be releasing an album in 2016 that would end up in my top 10, I would have said they haven’t made a great album since 1978’s “Some Girls” so why should I believe it?

Okay, the album is all blues covers from masters such as Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim but still the Stones play it like they own it.

Their first ‘new’ album since 2005’s “A Bigger Bang”, Mick Jagger hasn’t sounded this confident on the harmonica and vocals in many, many years and Ron and Keith trade guitar lines like two ace pilots competing with each other. Charlie, as always, keeps the whole thing from flying off the tracks with his locked in drumming.

You can tell they are really just having fun with this one, not trying to prove a point but reminding us of not only where they came from, but where rock music itself came from. I’d give a year off of my life if they would tour on this album in small clubs and would pay handsomely for the tickets.

Way to go lads…you nailed it.

Below is the link to the album review by David Fricke/Rolling Stone magazine:



#8. DIIV – Is The Is Are

[From Wikipedia] DIIV is an American rock band from Brooklyn, New York City, formed in 2011. The band consists of Zachary Cole Smith (vocals, guitar), Andrew Bailey (guitar), Devin Ruben Perez (bass), Colin Caulfield (keyboards, guitar) and Ben Newman (drums).

Initially called Dive, the band started as Smith’s solo recording project. After releasing three singles – “Sometime”, “Human” and “Geist” – on Captured Tracks, DIIV released its debut full-length album, Oshin, on June 26, 2012.

In 2016, the band released its second studio album, Is the Is Are, after a lengthy and troubled gestation period.

Like My Bloody – Cure – Valentine, the songs are echo-laden, reverb dripping, gloom-pop masterpieces. I had never heard of the band until a Facebook friend posted a link to the album. I’m really glad she did because it reinforced my belief that there is always great new music being produced, even if the media criminally ignores it.

While it’s not revolutionary in any sense, it faithfully creates an homage to 80’s – 90’s ‘shoe gazer’ rock without becoming too nostalgic about it.

Below is the link to the album review from Pitchfork:



#7. Jack White – Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016

Spanning almost 20 years, this is a double album collection of strong acoustic versions of White Stripes, solo work and a couple Raconteur (my favorite Jack White side project) songs. Sometimes acoustic albums can feel like they are plodding along. This album though, is almost as hot as when he is plugged in.

Nothing on here feels like it is ‘forced’ to be acoustic. They songs still feel natural in this ‘tamer’ setting. Outside of getting a ‘new’ Jack White album, this was one of the most welcome releases in 2016.

Below is the link to the album review from Pitchfork:



#6. Swans – The Glowing Man

With this latest incarnation of Swans, Michael Gira once again takes pretty traditional rock instruments (guitar, bass, drum, lap steel guitar) and somehow twists and filters their sounds through his hypnotically dark creative force, which often comes out like a dirge-like symphony orchestra. It’s simultaneously abrasive and musical.

It’s eight tracks span two discs with over half of the songs clocking in at 12 to 29 minutes. Because many of the pieces are long, there is ample time to let things build, heave upward and then recede only to heave upward some more. At times it feels like Einsturzende Neubauten, Sonic Youth (There’s even a ‘cover’ of “The World Looks Red”) and The Birthday Party jamming, albeit with more restraint and true musical phrasings.

The crown jewel on the whole album is the title cut. Clocking in at 28:51, it’s one of those signature pieces that starts low and slow and just keeps building with layers of sound until it kicks into to straight ahead heavy hard percussive noise rock. It’s an industrial noise rock masterpiece.

I was fortunate enough to see them on tour for this album and managed to get myself to the front of the stage right in front of Michael and Christoph Hahn. It was so loud you could feel your insides shake. My ears were ringing a bit even though I wore my musician’s grade earplugs.

Michael Gira has stated this is the last album to feature this lineup of Michael Gira (vocals, guitar), Norman Westberg (guitar), Christoph Hahn (lap steel guitar), Phil Puleo (drums), Christopher Pravdica (bass) and Paul Wallfisch (keyboards), which is somewhat of a shame since I think it’s one of their better lineups. Still, if this is what is necessary to continually come up with something new and visceral, then it’s a sacrifice that needs to be made. Or maybe it’s the end for good. If that is the case, this Swans-song was majestic.

Below is the link to the album review from Spin:



#5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Having been released after the tragic death of his son, Arthur, you knew this album was going to be dark. Actually some of it was recorded before Arthur’s death but it’s plain to see that event definitely shaped this album.

The opening song, “Jesus Alone”, after a somewhat dizzying and dark film score beginning, opens with the line,

“You fell from the sky

Crash landed in a field

Near the river Adur”

Arthur fell 60ft to his death from a cliff after freaking out on LSD. If you believe Nick, this was just a weird coincidence. According to him, most of the lyrics were written before the tragedy.

Nick always works out his demons through his work, whether it be music or literature and that’s what gives his work such importance, especially to those of us captivated by the darker side of life, or haunted by the darker side of life. Somewhat like Bowie’s “Blackstar” album, you can’t put on this album for some casual listen. You really need to be prepared for it because it can be emotionally draining. It works best at night, in the cold, alone with a drink, so you can just sit…and ponder…how horrible life can be at times.

Below is the link to the album review from The Guardian:



#4. Anderson / Stolt – Invention Of Knowledge

If you can’t have one of the classic Yes lineups with Jon Anderson on vocals, then at least you have this wonderful modern progressive album. Joined by Roine Stolt and a host of other notable prog musicians, this album is a near masterpiece.

Some of it reminds me of Close To The Edge/Tales From Topographic Oceans era Yes and some of it reminds me a bit of Going For The One. Jon’s voice is in great form throughout and at age 72, I’m amazed he still has that wonderful high voice (Note: I saw Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman perform on tour this year and can tell you firsthand that he still has the voice.)

Below is the link to the album review from The Prog Report:



#3. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression

My general opinion about Iggy Pop is that he’s always as good as the band he puts together with him and he nailed it this time. He’s joined by Josh Homme and Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age, and Matt Helders, the drummer for the Arctic Monkeys.

Maybe it’s partly due to his reforming of The Stooges in the 2000’s but this time around, Iggy feels and sounds reenergized. There’s nothing ‘phoned in’ on this one. It feels raw and vital like we’ve often come to know from Iggy.

He’s alluded to the media that this may be his last album, which is kind of sad to hear but if this truly is his last album, he will have gone out in epic style.

Below is the link to the album review from Rolling Stone:



#2. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – Monolith Of Phobos

The ONLY reason this album didn’t make #1 is because I knew nothing would knock my #1 choice of 2016.  That said, this album is beyond genius.

I really like most of Les Claypool’s side projects but this one is probably the only one where I really want this to be an ongoing concern. It would be a shame if Les and Sean no longer collaborated after this one.

I guess you could best describe it as psychedelic – prog rock. Though unique, one can still hear homages to The Beatles as well as Primus. I never really followed much of Sean Lennon’s work so it astounded me to know how much he sounds like his father. However, I never get the impression on this album that he is deliberately trying to do so.

This album enjoyed heavy rotation by me in 2016 and I was damn lucky I was able to see them live when they toured on it this year.

Below is the link to a Rolling Stone article about the project:



#1. David Bowie – Blackstar

I bought this album the day it came out on January 8 and listened to it all through that weekend. I could sense after the first listening that something terrible was going to happen. It just struck me somehow that this wasn’t just a new album; it was the artist trying to tell us something is about to happen and that he was prepared for it.

I remember not sleeping well that Sunday night and when I woke up that Monday morning of January 11, I went to the computer as I always do to check out the news. There it was: “Rocker David Bowie Dead At 69”. I wasn’t shocked at all though I was sad (“I read the news today, oh boy…”).

That an artist dying of cancer could craft such an immaculate work of art that is basically telling us that he is leaving us is a testament to his creative energy and genius.

There’s talk of additional never released works to be released in the coming years, which is something to look forward to. However, we will never be able to ask ourselves, “What new stuff is David working on?”

Below is the link to the review from The Telegraph:




Honorable Mentions (In No Special Order)

  1. Wire – Nocturnal Koreans (This would have made the Top 10 but because it’s an EP and not an LP, I couldn’t permit it. Great, great stuff though)
  2. Nine Inch Nails – Not The Actual Events (See #1 for same explanation)
  3. Lazarus (Original Cast Recording)
  4. Tycho – Epoch
  5. Surgical Meth Machine – Surgical Meth Machine
  6. Pixies – Head Carrier
  7. John Doe – The Westerner
  8. Jah Wobble And The Invaders Of The Heart – Everything Is No Thing
  9. Helmet – Dead To The World
  10. Dengue Dengue Dengue – Siete Raices
  11. Brian Eno – The Ship
  12. David Arkenstone – Beneath A Darkening Sky

#10 Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Melba Barnett is an Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist from Melbourne, Australia. This is her first album after having released 3 EP’s prior.

The album kicks off with “Elevator Operator”, which kind of reminds me a bit of Lou Reed mixed with The Strokes (first album). It has some great narrative storytelling set to a danceable rhythm. Following this is “Pedestrian At Best”, a somewhat grungy number with the vocals out front so they don’t get lost in the mix.

“An Illustration Of Loneliness” takes the tempo down a bit, while maintaining that early Strokes sound (at least to me). “Small Poppies” takes the tempo down even further. It’s one of the more bluesy cuts on the album with some nice echo effects on the guitar. Midway through the song there is a nice guitar solo that veers somewhat into a blues-rockabilly vein.

“Depreston” has a sort of Lou Reed gone country with a little Cowboy Junkies thrown in. “Aqua Profunda!” takes us back to more of an up tempo sound that is somewhat reminiscent of Elastica.

“Dead Fox” returns once again to the L Reed/Strokes feel but it doesn’t wear thin. “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” sounds a bit like a Bleach/Incesticide era Nirvana but with clear vocals and hints of mid-60’s Brit rock.

“Debbie Downer” has a 60’s psychedelic/folk appeal to it especially due to the keyboard line while “Kim’s Caravan” starts off almost like an early Bauhaus song with the bass line accompanied by a sparse higher end guitar line (it made me think of the song “Hollow Hills” for some reason). The song then morphs into more of a Doors kind of territory with the epic style poetry and tense but subdued music.

The album concludes with “Boxing Day Blues”; another psych/folk excursion that gently returns us to the point where we stepped on board.

This isn’t the type of music I usually go in for but for some reason it grabbed me due to both the music and the great lyrics. I’m not saying I will own her entire discography but this album is worth being part of one’s collection.


#9 Prong – Songs From The Black Hole

This being their 10th studio album, Prong decided to release an album of covers that highlights a fairly broad range of styles. I thought I was going to absolutely love this album when I first read about it and I do really like it (it made it to #9 after all), but I can’t find an instance where I like their version almost as much as the original.

The album kicks off with Discharge’s “Doomsday”, which is basically some straight ahead hardcore. This leads into a cover of Sisters Of Mercy’s “Vision Thing” which is actually a pretty faithful cover though the vocals can’t get as low as Andrew Eldritch. Still it’s one of the stronger songs on the album.

Following this is Butthole Surfers “Goofy’s Concern”, which is more of a hardcore metal version of the original. Think a bit like latter day Ministry. After this we have Adolescents’ “Kids Of The Black Hole”, which takes the tempo down a bit. There’s some pretty good drum work going on in this track and the song takes us into a more American punk sound than the prior tracks.

Black Flag’s “The Bars” turns up next and it sounds just as 80’s west coast hardcore as the original. The album then turns to a version of Killing Joke’s “Seeing Red” which for some reason seems like an odd choice for a Killing Joke song to cover. It’s a pretty faithful cover but just a bit more metal at the chorus. Tommy Victor can’t mimic Jaz Coleman’s vocals, but then again, who can?

“Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely” from Husker Du follows. It kind of reminds me of a more metal Foo Fighters covering Husker Du. It’s not the strongest cut on the album but does have some good lead guitar work. Fugazi’s “Give Me The Cure” turns up next played as good straight ahead hard rock.

Bad Brain’s “Banned In DC” has a fast, fast, fast start and then takes us into a slower second half.

The album closes with the oddest choice I think: Neil Young’s 1975 “Cortez The Killer”. It’s an interesting choice to end the album and actually is a pretty faithful cover reminding us that Mr. Young’s influence is far and wide.

As I said earlier, I thought this album was going to end up higher on the list. I might have chose different songs from the bands covered but still it’s a pretty strong slab of music and worth a listen or two.


#8 The Prodigy – The Day Is My Enemy

This to me is their best album since 1997’s The Fat Of The Land. It’s loud, abrasive, beat heavy techno that is relentless. If you can’t dance to this, you are probably dead.

We begin with “The Day Is My Enemy”, whose harshness and chest thumping beats are counterbalanced by the vocals of Martina Topley-Bird. “Nasty” is your classic late 90’s Prodigy with Keith Flint’s sneering John Lydonesque vocals. It’s fast, then some slow breaks, then fast again. “Rebel Radio” sounds like a candidate for a 4th Matrix film. The song is filled with dirty vocal samples and sounds that bounce around with industrial-techno, hip-hop and world beat.

“Ibiza” is some beat heavy stuff with more of Keith’s sneering vocals. The song is an attack on the superstar DJ culture aka “music on USB sticks”. “Destroy” could easily have been at home on The Fat Of The Land. It’s a mostly instrumental number that kind of reminds me of Kraftwerk on Ecstacy. “Wild Frontier” opens almost like a John Carpenter opus but then quickly slides us down the rabbit hole of beat heavy, trippy techno.

The danger with this kind of music is that one is tempted to drag songs to 8 to 10 minutes or even longer. However, with all but one song less than 5 minutes in length, this album moves along with a nice blistering pace. Liam Howlett is one of my favorite techno musicians. He has total mastery of his gear and he clearly knows how to pace an album; in to and out of each track like a commando run.

“Rok-Weiler” sounds a bit like a metal song stripped of its traditional guitar, bass and drum and replaced with alien android electronics. “Beyond The Deathray” is reminiscent of 80’s post-punk electronica (think Numan or pre-girls Human League). It’s like a short bridge of a song to get us to “side B of the album”.

“Rhythm Bomb” starts with a heartbeat like beat and continues to build as the sampled vocals kick in. The song features samples of American house music band Jomanda. “Roadblox” is the longest of the songs clocking in at 5:01. It’s possibly the fastest tempo on the album with way cool pitch bent synth lines.

“Get Your Fight On” opens with a treated guitar riff then propels headfirst into a hard as fuck dance track. This too, could easily be worked into a hard rock/metal song. This ain’t DJ shit. These are songs! “Medicine” has a hard world beat feel to it. The horns give it a bit of a North African/Middle Eastern feel. Towards the end it has kind of a “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” bass rhythm line with a sax line that gives the song a techno-Bauhaus feel.

“Invisible Sun” takes the tempo down. Again this is one of those songs on the album that you know could be a great slow metal song. “Wall Of Death” closes the traditional album with some ‘in your face’ techno with a bit of horror-rock sound thrown in. It’s a great closing to a fine album.

“Rise Of The Eagles” is a bonus track thrown in on some releases. It starts with helicopter and motorcycle samples then treated sampled bass. Then the percussion kicks in along with the vocals to give it a 60’s psych/garage vibe. The “all dressed up and ready to go” vocals definitely reminds me of My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.

I might have rated this album higher if it had more Keith Flint vocals on it. His voice always amps up the aggression on an already aggressive album. Still, I do love this album.


#7 Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor

Finally, after a string of albums that were definitely not his best, Marilyn Manson, somewhat unexpectedly returns to form with his strongest album (his 9th) in far too many years. The thing about Manson is he’s usually only as good as the other band members he writes and records with. This time it’s with Tyler Bates, who Manson met through their mutual involvement on the show Californication. Tyler brings a more blues-influenced sound to the proceedings and it really works well, though one might not think so at first.

“Killing Strangers” opens the album and it wastes no time starting off with a more blues influenced tone. To me this song has a weird late career Doors on a goth trip vibe to it. After this we get “Deep Six”, clearly his best single since “Mobscene”. This really kicks the album into a higher gear after “Killing Strangers”. It’s a really great song with some of his finest wordplay (“You want to know what Zeus said to Narcissus? You better watch yourself”). “Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge” is full of 70’s hard rock guitar with a modern rhythm track. Upon a couple listens, it’s evident this could be a pretty good Iggy Pop song.

“The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles” has kind of a slowed down “Beautiful People” drum line. It feels a bit like it could have been on Mechanical Animals. It also has more of that interesting wordplay (“Lazarus ain’t got no dirt on me.”). “Warship My Wreck” has a slightly Gary Numan feel to it in the beginning. This song also effectively features Manson’s trademark layered thick screamed vocals. The song is very soundtracky; like they listened to a lot of Reznor/Clouser beforehand. That’s not a bad thing by the way.

“Slave Only Dreams To Be King” isn’t really a great song but it still clings to the overall theme and style of the album so it doesn’t really disappoint. Taken by itself, however, it feels like more of a b-side to a single. “The Devil Beneath My Feet” takes us into a bluesy glam sound of a darker Marc Bolan.

“Birds Of Hell Awaiting” – Jim Morrison and The Gun Club performing at a bordello on the set of a David Lynch sex scene, with Robert Rodriguez as unit director. I’ll just leave it at that. “Cupid Carries A Gun” is where Marilyn meets Nick Cave at the crossroads of Holy Wood and The Golden Age Of Grotesque.

“Odds Of Even” reminds me of a slow Alice Cooper song on the B-side of one of his earlier albums. It has a very 70’s blues/shock sound to it.

The album closes with the extra cuts: “Day 3”, “Fated, Faithful, Fatal” and “Fall Of The House Of Death” which are acoustic re-workings of “Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge”, “The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles” and “Odds Of Even” respectively. They are all good versions and stand on their own as fine songs.

It’s great that Manson has finally righted his ship with this release. Here’s hoping it is a trend and not a fluke. Bravo Marilyn.


#6 Wire – Wire

This is a band that has never disappointed me (though I do love some albums more than others). They have been consistently releasing really great music throughout the 2000’s.

The album leads off with the pulsing “Blogging”. The song is not hard rocking but it does get you moving as the guitar and vocals slide all over and around Graham Lewis’ bass line.

“Shifting” has a real organic feel to it like something that started off as a Githead track but somehow made its way to Wire. Graham does a great kind of Malka Spigel bass line.

“Burning Bridges” would sound just as great if Graham did the vocals. Some of the phrasings in the song seem Beatle-esque to me. “In Manchester” kind of starts off like a latter day Peter Murphy song before kicking into a fairly up tempo number with a real catchy, bouncy bass line.

“High” somewhat reminds me of the stuff they were doing in the 80’s without it sounding dated or nostalgic. “Sleep-Walking” brings the tempo down quite a bit from the previous song. It’s a very brooding and haunting number that could easily be the soundtrack to a dream.

“Joust & Jostle” was the first single from the album. It too has a cool bounciness to it, making it very danceable. This was the first song I heard from this album and I thought if the rest of the album is just as good, we’re all in for a wild ride. At times, it reminds me a bit of XTC but I’m not sure why.

“Swallow” is another song that I can easily hear Graham singing. It might have been cool if they traded lines or verses with each other. This is one of those songs where you just want to close your eyes and melt into the rhythm. “Split Your Ends” is full on classic Wire. Kickass driving bass and drum with guitar lines and chords weaving above and below.

To me, “Octopus” is the most “post-punk” sounding number on the album that has some really intelligent arrangements. “Harpooned” closes the album with a hard, heavy fuzzy distortion sound that builds throughout the number. It has a bit of a Killing Joke feel to it. Colin repeatedly sings, ‘I’m worried, I’m worried…’ adding to the tension the song invokes. The song continues to build until it finally crashes into a wash of heavily distorted guitars.

This is one of Wire’s strongest albums in some time even though they’ve been consistently releasing strong material. If I have any complaint, it would be that I would have liked to hear 2 or 3 songs with Graham on lead vocals. He has a good deep voice that compliments Colin’s higher tenor. It’s only a small complaint and these guys are also so prolific with various side projects that I’m sure I’ll get to hear plenty of Graham’s voice (See #5).


#5 Hox – Duke Of York

Hox is Graham Lewis of Wire with Andreas Karperyd, the first for the duo since 1999. This is one great album to listen to late at night in very low lighting.

“Anthracite” oozes and pulses with arcs of icy electronics. If Gary Numan or Nine Inch Nails wanted to get a little more experimental in their work, they’d best be studying something like this. “Javelin” has more of a musical feel than “Anthracite”. It’s as if Wire traded in their more traditional instruments and instead picked up some electronic instruments.

“Correct Co-ordinates” sounds like one of those weird but cool Wire b-sides that make you think they should do a whole album of this kind of stuff. It also feels like an updated track that never made it to Brian Eno’s and David Byrne’s “My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts”. “It’s Too Much” has the feel of a soundtrack piece. The pumping rhythms and very much alive bass line reminds me of an anthem to a very dystopian world.

“X In Circle” starts off very Eno-ish with maybe a dash of “Close To The Edge” era Yes intro that nicely melds into something akin to Bowie’s b-sides on the Low and Heroes albums. “White Space Conflict” begins with a tribal techno intro, like world beat on an alien landscape. It also has a ritualistic sexual feel to it like something Chris & Cosey might come up with.

“Track And Field” starts off in a very deep space vibe then breaks into both a subdued and frenetic pace. I’m hearing some early Human League (before the ladies came on board) with maybe a dash of Aphex Twin thrown into the mix.

“Goodbye” starts off with a simple techno tribal line with added fills of percussion as it moves along. Then a more rock oriented bass line emerges that rides along an ethereal synth line. Graham’s vocals ride nice and clear on top of the mix, saying goodbye to a good friend.

The album closes with “Frequency” which starts with a couple bass lines that lead into treated vocals by Graham. The phrasing is very Wire-like; so much so, I could hear Colin singing on a track like this. The song leads out with the line, “I walk with you…” sung repeatedly until the end.

Graham Lewis is an extremely talented musician. We all knew that from his work with Wire. But his many side projects are equally as good as Wire. This album is no exception.


#4 The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Freedom Tower – No Wave Dance Party 2015

If a year prior someone had told me I was going to put a JSBE album in my top 5 albums of the year, I probably would have laughed. Hey I’ve always liked JSBE but #4? Well they did it with this one.

The album starts with “Funeral”, which sounds a bit like the Beastie Boys when they rocked instead of rapped. It has a totally downtown New York kind of feel to it with some 70’s era Stones guitar work in there. “Wax Dummy” continues with that 70’s era Stonesy sound but with hint of a post punk explosion in the Bowery. It would be cool to hear Mick Jagger cover this.

“Do The Get Down” has a total Beastie Boys percussion intro that then evolves into something like Jack White jamming with Mike D. “Betty vs. The NYPD” gets more into the classic NY punk or like the Cramps take on Manhattan with the New York Dolls.

“White Jesus” starts like The Cramps dropped in on a Stone’s rehearsal and just went from there. It’s got that bad vibe sound that feels real cool. “Born Bad” is blues punk heaven. It’s got some really strong drum work and the song eventually bleeds into a brief Psych-60’s guitar solo.

“Down And Out” is a song I bet The Strokes wished they had written that also has some Lou Reed flavorings and maybe even a little bit of later period Velvet Underground. “Crossroad Hop” has a Jack White in the Bowery feel to it. This is the kind of music we’ve heard live, where the band is tapping their feet on a beer soaked stage with an occasional broken syringe lying about. We’ve all been there. Towards the end, Jon pulls out some cool slide guitar work.

“The Ballad Of Joe Buck” has a kind of Red Hot Chili Pepper’s mid-80’s thing going but with an influence that is more NY than LA (obviously). “Dial Up Doll” has that mid-70’s deep in the city rock sound. In all honesty, the song is kind of filler but it still beats many bands’ ‘porterhouse steak’ songs. “Bellvue Baby” is like a deep album cut from the Stones circa 1972 but with a much dirtier mix. This strikes me as a good song to fuck to when you have a bottle of Jack in your left hand and a joint in your right hand while you watch your lover ride you. The short guitar solo rocks too.

“Tales Of Old New York: The Rock Box” is Jack White jamming with the Beastie Boys in some basement shithole that smells like stale beer and fresh piss. The album concludes with “Cooking For Television” another slab of gritty NY blues punk. This album doesn’t end with a whimper at all.


#3 Public Image Limited (PIL) – What The World Needs Now…

I guess John Lydon should really be calling this band The John Lydon Band since he’s been the only original member for years. This is a strong album start to finish and it’s also measurably better than 2012’s “This Is Pil”, which is not a bad album at all.

“Double Trouble” kicks it all off with a simple bass and drum line for about 6 seconds then John’s spoken word intro comes in with “What you fucking nagging again” going on about the broken toilet and how a plumber should have been brought in to fix it. This is classic sneering Lydon served on a platter with jagged guitar and a bass line that propels the song along like a train. This might be my favorite cut on the album.

“Know Now” reminds me a bit of Killing Joke, mostly due to how it begins with a fading in guitar followed quickly by the drums and bass setting the foundation to the guitar line that reminds me a little bit of Geordie from Killing Joke. I’m not sure why John felt compelled to write a song about “Bettie Page” but he did. It has a really good guitar line that courses through it with an echoey almost 60’s feel to it.

“C’est la vie” seriously sounds like a lost track from the “Metal Box” album. Its slower tempo and moody guitar and bass would easily fit onto that album. “Spice of Choice” sounds like something PIL would have done in the late 80’s. This is where PIL gets about as commercial sounding as is possible for them.

“The One” really reminds me of something Joe Strummer would have recorded after The Clash broke up. Everything from the music, backing vocals and even the way John tosses out the lines evokes Strummer, though the two don’t sound anything alike. “Big Blue Sky” is like a collage of different song styles that seem to work here with elements of ska, reggae, funk with a 70’s vibe buried into it. Then the chorus sounds a bit like a 70’s anthem rock song. You would expect this to not work at all but it somehow does.

“Whole Life Time” gives us that great PIL-funkadelic sound; kind of like early 80’s Talking Heads but with a nastier tempo. The driving bass line and up front percussion can easily get asses moving on the dance floor. “I’m Not Satisfied” is very much like Gang Of Four when Sara Lee was with the band. The scratchy guitar owes a lot to Andy Gill too.

“Corporate” again gets back into that “Metal Box” era, especially with the very Jah Wobble-like bass line. The guitar line and John’s vocals sound pissed off and for good reason. Listening to this makes me think I’m at a Rage Against The Machine concert performed in a swimming pool under water and I’m headbanging under water.

“Shoom” is the most techno-y song on the album with a simple but great opening vocal line of ‘Fuck you. Fuck Off”. Throughout the song, John wails “What the world needs now is another fuck off”. Amen brother. There’s a bonus track called “Turkey Tits” that closes the album. It’s amusing but can be considered a throw away like maybe a few of the songs on The Clashes’ “Sandinista!” album. You don’t hate it but it’s clear not a lot of effort went into it.

At age 60, John Lydon hasn’t lost any of his sneering anger at all. He’s using it to channel more sophisticated rants than he did as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. I like the way he’s matured. He’s pissed off but you can tell he’s having fun being pissed off. What the world needs now…are more John Lydons.


#2 Killing Joke – Pylon

Killing Joke has been one of my favorite bands since I discovered them in the early 80’s. It never ceases to amaze me how they are largely underappreciated, especially here in the United States. They’ve had a misstep in the late 80’s but they quickly rebounded and have been running strong ever since. Their latest, “Pylon” is a killer piece of music.

“Pylon” starts off with “Autonomous Zone” which a pounding, pulsing furious track with scratchy dissonant guitar. You know right away this album intends to get right to business. “Dawn Of The Hive” kicks off with a heavy industrial metal riff. Jaz Coleman’s echoed vocals ride on top of this heavy swelling sea of noise.

“New Cold War” is a post-punk, prog-metal masterpiece with Jaz’s furious vocals. “Euphoria” is another up-tempo track borrowing heavily from the post-punk sound. It sounds a bit like their early to mid 80’s sound but the thing with Killing Joke is that no matter when it was recorded, it never sounds dated later.

“New Jerusalem” begins with a droning bass synth with a hint of Middle Eastern synth effects. Then Geordie, Youth and Martin kick in with a mid tempo heavy sound with Jaz starting off rather calm then working himself up into a frenzy as the song really begins to take off. The intro to “War On Freedom” reminded me of something that might have come off their “Revelations” album with Geordie’s guitar work from the 1982 era. But the song soon ascends into that dark, post apocalyptic sound they’re currently known for.

“Big Buzz” also has that “Revelations” feel to it as well as something off of the “Night Time” album. There are some really beautiful, yet hard guitar and vocal melodies in this song. Jaz’s vocals can still soar on top of the songs, which is amazing since on many songs, he almost growls out the vocals. With “Delete” you think if Tommy Victor of Prong earned an art degree prior to him picking up a guitar, this would be the sound of Prong.

“I Am The Virus” is a runaway train of bass and drum with Geordie deftly weaving guitar riffs all over it. Jaz is killing it on vocals. His growl is angry yet artful, not metal caricature. The album closes with “Into The Unknown” that has a dizzying pace that won’t let up just because it’s the last song.

The deluxe version of the album comes with a second disc containing 5 additional tracks. They aren’t throwaway tracks either:

“Apotheosis” – Like 90’s Ministry “Jesus Built My Hotrod” but without the humor.

“Plague” – Nice plodding, marching bass/drums with distorted guitar.

“Star Spangled” – This could have fit nicely on the “Pandemonium” album.

“Panopticon” – Opens with a Manson-like riff but then becomes something more.

“Snakedance (Youth ‘Rattlesnake Dub’ Remix)” – Clearly the weakest track on the album but is still an interesting dub mix akin to what Adrian Sherwood does.


#1 One-Eyed Doll – Witches

Okay, I know those of you who know me will tease on this because I’m a huge fan of the band and I know them personally. But this album is clearly the best thing I heard in 2015. Based on the Salem witch hysteria of 1692, “Witches” is a concept album that deftly handles the subject matter as opposed to making it into something cartoonish. After listening to it, I actually went online to study more about this part of American history.

“Ember” opens the album with a piece of music played on bells (or a synth with a bell patch). This line will appear elsewhere throughout the album, though played differently. In the background you can hear an accusatory voice that eventually gets swallowed by Kimberly Freeman’s furiously played guitar and scream along with Jason Sewell’s drums. Then Kimberly repeatedly wails “My soul’s an ember in the flames of Hell”. The mood is set.

“Prayer” follows and it’s a much quieter, slower piece with acoustic instruments, strings and what sounds like analog synths, giving it somewhat of a 70’s prog feel to it. “Black In The Rye” follows and we’re once again thrown into the realm of hard rock. The song delves into one of the prevailing theories that rye crops were infested with a mold that had hallucinatory properties when ingested, which explains why people were seeing things.

“A Rope For Mary” follows. A slower piece that builds in intensity as it progresses, the song is about Mary Eastey, who was accused of being a witch and was later executed by hanging. “More Weight” is a heavier piece (no pun intended) and tells the story of Giles Gorey, who was pressed to death by rocks laid on top of him because he refused to enter a plea in court.

“Remember” is an acoustic, instrumental piece of mandolin (?), violin and guitar giving the album a kind of intermission interlude quality. “Witch Hunt” follows as a heavier hard rock number that delves into the accusations of witchcraft that lead to convictions that culminated in hangings. “Stillness” is one of the most beautiful songs on the album. Starting off low key and mostly acoustic, it later builds in intensity. Kimberly’s vocals throughout the song are amazing. The song is about a woman who has been hung and slowly passes:


Finally confusion is gone

And as they said all along

I can fly”

As one listens to the album, musical themes re-emerge in reworked fashion. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the song “Afflicted”, potentially the opus piece on the album, tying the story and themes together in a lengthy work that brings things to a climax. The analog synths give the piece a classic feel to it especially as each line is layered over one another. About a quarter of the way in, marching guitar chords propel the listener. Toward the end, Kimberly’s swirling harmonies fly high above the fast kick drums and guitar.

“Betrayed us

Her name has been inscribed

In the pages

For all ages

With his power

She holds me in captivity”

One might think the album could end at this point but there’s more…

“Sorrow” is a short track that ties the lyrical and musical themes together once again. This then leads into the last song, “The Ghosts Of Gallows Hill”, in my opinion the best track on this exceptional album. The song is about those who paid the horrible price of this hysteria – those who were accused, tried, sentenced and hung:

“We are the ghosts of Gallows Hill

We sing forgotten stories of the past

By moonlight, we dance on Gallows Hill

Remember, so that we may ever last”

Just before the middle of the song, Kimberly sings these soaring harmonies that can literally take your breath away. I could listen to this part of the song over and over again (and have, many times). Her vocals are so powerful without ever being over the top. I think it is one of the best vocal performances to close a song and album. The song then goes into some of the music themes previously explored which fades out as an organ/synth and bell fades in, with frogs croaking in the background. This lasts for about a minute and a half until it fades all the way out. Magnificent.

Sometimes I get a little nervous when a band I have invested so much time, emotion and money into announces a new album. I hope it’s going to be good. And there’s a part of me wondering, “what if it sucks?” (This has happened before). I remember listening to “Witches” start to finish in my study the day I got it. After “The Ghosts Of Gallows Hill” faded out, I just sat still, processing everything I had heard. After a few minutes I went to the kitchen where my wife was sitting. I remember telling her, “It’s fucking brilliant”. It still is.




Caribbean Cruise 2015: A Gimp Abroad

Posted: February 21, 2015 in Vacation

Day One: Friday, Feb 20, 2015

Today was the travel day to Florida where we spend the night, before heading over to the pier tomorrow afternoon to board the ship. We took a tiny Jet Blue aircraft out of Richmond International Airport.


There was a little angst when one of the airline employees said the chair might be too big to go through the cargo door. Fortunately Ellen came up with some good ideas earlier this morning to remove the joystick controller and footrests and store them in a duffle bag. That not only helped to protect them but also reduced the wheelchair footprint so it could fit inside the cargo hold.

So they strap me into a straightback which is akin to the dolly they strapped Hannibal Lecter into in Silence Of The Lambs. All I needed was the mask. I’m sitting there like this for at least 15 minutes while other travellers gawked at me.


Finally they take me on board and lift my fat ass into the ever narrower seats. Now I don’t have the biggest ass in the world so I don’t know how bigger people can even fly on an airline these days.

So I’m sitting with Ellen, hoping to get off the ground soon when Captain Pickle (Captain Pickle, I shit you not) makes an announcement that the flight has been delayed because they couldn’t close one of the cargo doors.


My first thought was that they closed it on top of my wheelchair and crushed it. After about another 15 minutes we got another announcement from Kapitain Pickle that they got the door closed and we were ready to take off.

It was a pretty smooth take off so once we were in the air, I put Einsturzende Neubauten on the iPod to drown out the fucking children sitting right behind me and ordered a vodka and tonic as I listened to songs about WW1.


Another vodka and tonic later we were making our landing approach. They bring my wheelchair back to me on the jetway and much to my surprise, it was hardly damaged. They only managed to break a clip that holds a satchel bag on the chair. Not bad but all the credit goes to Ellen for her ingenuity.

Now I’m sitting here blogging in Room 306 of the Sleep Inn in Ft. Lauderdale waiting for Ellen to return with something to eat and more importantly, a bucket of ice for this bottle of vodka.


More later peeps…

Day Two: Saturday, Feb 21, 2015

Today is the first day of the cruise. Before we left the hotel and took the cab to the pier, I looked out our hotel window and saw this…


Must have been Palm Saturday or something.

After a relatively short and uneventful cab ride, we ended up at the pier to prepare for boarding the ship. Similar to an airport, there are the laborious security checks and luggage handling but that’s the price we pay for not getting all blown to bits these days.

Later that afternoon, we boarded the fabulous Oasis Of The Seas (my second time on this craft). This time, we are on Deck 9, Cabin 172.


Here we are, just starting to sail out of Ft. Lauderdale…


Here are some pictures of where we will be living this week:


Upper Left: The desk where I thought I would be doing most of my blogging. WordPress became a real prick while at sea and I had trouble accessing my blog. As a fallback plan, I had purchased a pen and small green notebook to carry around and jot down thoughts before the alcohol erased them from short term memory.


Upper Right: From just inside the balcony, looking in.

Bottom: The ocean-side balcony from the inside of the cabin.  This is where I will spend most of my time while at sea.

For Day 1 of the cruise, I chose to wear the One-Eyed Doll “Be My Friend” t-shirt, accented of course by my Skinny Puppy tour cap. I’m sure I would see many more of these on the ship – NOT!

Today I cracked off a few Bitstrips to celebrate the occasion.


The book I chose to read on the cruise was Karl Pilkinton’s, “The Moaning Of Life”. I needed something humorous to compliment the travels of this gimp abroad. Karl and I seem to see the world alike, with a deep cynicism. You might think that’s the wrong way to set the mood for a vacation but that’s the cloth I’m cut from people.


4:00 PM

So at 4:00 came the mandatory emergency assembly drill. This is where they instruct you on what to do if say, the captain is trying to impress a lady-friend and accidentally runs the ship aground or something. I was hoping to see a priest who looked like a young Gene Hackman. He could come in  handy if we needed to evacuate and a giant steam valve leaks and blocks our way to climb up to the bottom of the ship.


It didn’t take long to nearly get into a crash with the numerous geriatric Mario Andretti’s, driving around in their little scooters. They drive around like fucking amateurs. I, on the other hand, am the Rudolf Nureyev of wheelchair precision driving (usually).

So as I’m tuning out all of the emergency instructions I looked across the place where we assembled and saw this pathetic sea of humanity, The only thought that occurred to me was that I hoped the ship would never run into trouble because if we did, we would all be totally fucked.

I couldn’t find any pescatarian entrees at dinner tonight so I paid for the broiled Maine lobster for an extra $29.95. It was worth it. I still feel lousy that I’m eating an animal but they are practically bugs so that helps sedate my angst.

At Ellen’s mom’s request, we have been seated at one of the tables where Maritess is the waitress. She’s a sweet, kind lady from the Philippines who was also our waitress when we cruised in November 2012. She’s very kind to everyone but I especially like how she takes care of me at dinner; by removing my lobster from it’s shell and cutting it up for me.

The Assistant Waiter is Gabriel from Romania. He too, is very nice. At lunch the next day, we learned from him that his fiancee, Beatrice, also works on the ship. When I see people like him, I sometimes feel there’s hope for humanity. Typically though, I run across some idiot afterward and that sentiment is quickly extinguished.

Day Three: Sunday, Feb 22, 2015

Today we woke up to find we had sailed into Nassau, Bahamas. We decided to stay on board ship though. I’ve been to Nassau 4 times now and quite frankly, it isn’t very wheelchair accessible. Plus everywhere you go, there are throngs of poor people practically begging you to buy some trinket you don’t really need. It’s all kind of depressing but it does reaffirm my belief that the world remains a less than pleasant place that has been made the very hell that it truly is, due to humans. Okay so don’t think I’m having a bad time on vacation though. I love reaffirming my beliefs in the tropics.

Today’s One-Eyed Doll t-shirt was my new pink spray paint shirt, hand made by Kimberly Freeman. I did notice it catching the attention of a few people. The elderly spectators seemed a bit apprehensive and the youth crowd appeared to be curious. You can see all of my One-Eyed Doll attire at the bottom of this blog.

We had lunch at the Windjammer Marketplace. I had a vegetable stir fry and rice with some mildly seasoned salmon and two cups of coffee. The tableau of overweight passengers carrying multiple plates of food was a fine documentary of empire’s decline. Bon Appetite!

Back on the balcony I sat and watched people returning to the ship after playing on Nassau. Honestly, they looked like a line of ants returning to their floating colony with their purchased ‘kill’ for the day? In almost single file, they returned to the ship, engorged by their mass consumerist hive colony mentality.


I wondered if any tropical diseases had hitched a ride with some of them and came on board.

2:25 PM

We pulled out of Nassau about 25 minutes ago and I can no longer see the island we left behind. 30 minutes ago I was tanning and profusely sweating the toxins from my body. Now a pleasant breeze caresses me and evaporates the accumulated sweat. It’s in these moments and almost these moments alone that become one with the sea. To me, the shows, clubs and casinos on board are lowest common denominator pablum. How anyone could choose these venues over the infinite expanse of sea is beyond me. I feel the ocean call to me each day I am on board and I am not truly satisfied until I can be outside in the air with it. To each his/her own I suppose.

Alone And Not Alone, At Sea

Sitting all alone with thousands of others around me

On a giant vessel of hedonism and gluttony

Occasionally I hear above me, the cackles of Earth’s apex parasites

I am not without guilt – I am not without guilt

I paid handsomely for this ‘right’ to pollute

Yet I am always cognizant of the rape of which I am an accomplice

It must be nice to enjoy oneself and never consider the true cost

I look out at the calm ocean, seeing nothing but deep blue sea

But the thought that lingers is me wondering if just beyond the horizon lies the endless sea of floating plastic

The discarded remains of everyone’s past pleasures

What do the passengers above me see?

They see the plastic lives they’ve become,

as they primp themselves to get ready for another round of neon dance,

banal shows and insipid conversations

Give me my solitude and the sea

As dirty as we have made it,

it’s far cleaner than the people above me…

and probably most everyone else

I am not without guilt


Day Four: Monday, Feb 23, 2015

I just got done shooting a 4 minute video of nothing but the ocean and horizon with the iPad. I may decide to do something with this in Final Cut Pro at some point. I’m always looking for good raw material to work with.

Earlier this morning I saw about 20 or so flying fish flying away from the wake of the ship. Why is it that I find animals infinitely more fascinating than people?

Today’s One-Eyed Doll t-shirt is the Purple Haze shirt.

So the balcony has tempered glass panes for walls with a railing on top of it. After about a day or so though, the glass gets coated with sea spray so the view through the glass is less than spectacular, The crew will clean the balconies maybe a couple of times while we are on board.

Before lunch, Ellen told Omar, our steward, that I can’t see much over the rail since it’s about 4 ft tall. When we came back from lunch, I noticed the glass balcony wall was nearly spotless and thought maybe this was the time that all the balconies got cleaned. Then I noticed the adjacent balconies were still spotted with water and salt. Omar must have had ours specially cleaned. This was so very kind of him as the view is now once again great!

I’ve noticed the ocean is much more consistently choppier on this cruise than any others we have been on. I don’t know if it’s like this all of the time this time of year since this is the first late Winter cruise we’ve taken. I can really feel the ship bounce quite a bit which is somewhat amazing since this ship is huge and we’re pretty much in the middle, where the motion would be at its least. Fortunately, I do not get seasick.

Day Five: Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Today’s One-Eyed Doll t-shirt was PAO!

Here is where we ‘parked’ in St. Thomas:


We left the ship around Noon to explore St. Thomas. I purchased a real cool ornament as soon as we got on the island: Santa delivering gifts while riding a sleigh that is actually a shark. C’mon! How fucking cool is that?22

Our goal today was to get to Coral World Marine Park to see sea animals. We left the ship with some cash but apparently not enough to go to Coral World and pay the admission fee and cab fare. We tried going to an ATM but all we had were credit cards and we didn’t know what the PINS were. Ellen had to walk back to the ship to borrow some cash from her mom. WE DON’T PLAN VERY WELL!

While Milo and I waited, we spent some time with the local dinosaurs:


Here’s a pic of me and Milo, waiting for the ride into St. Thomas:


Like I said, we had planned to go to Coral World Marine Park but once we got there (after a 30 minute cab ride that was akin to driving to Jurassic Park!), we discovered it had closed about 10 minutes before we got there.

However, being driven around this island is an experience to behold. The winding streets are extremely steep in spots and ultra narrow. We got to meet a friendly black cat at Coki Beach after we had discovered Coral World had closed. He/she laid at my feet as I sipped long and hard on a rum filled smoothie.


We then drove to another beach so the cabbie could pick up another fare. At this beach I got my wheelchair stuck in the sand. Fortunately, three guys dragged me back to firmer ground. The pic below is me on the beach that I got stuck on.


In all honesty, once you get inland a bit, St. Thomas is pretty beat. The beaches are fabulous but most of the neighborhoods we drove through looked like South Philadelphia in the tropics. It’s nice to know that the decline of western civilization has even invaded ‘paradise’.

Here I am in St. Thomas, in front of our floating city:


Day Six: Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015

St. Maarten

Today’s One-Eyed Doll t-shirt was the white spray paint shirt done by Kimberly Freeman and customized with autograph and angel wings on the back.

So today we pulled into St. Maarten, my favorite island on the cruise. We got up fairly early so we could explore the island as much as possible. I remember as we were riding an elevator to get to the gangway, some guy with his family looked at my shirt and asked if it was the band, “One-Eyed Peas”. We corrected him (politely) and his daughter told him he was thinking of the Black Eyed Peas. They got off on a deck before us and before the elevator doors closed, we could hear the daughter and mom laughing and saying, “One-Eyed Peas…hah hah hah….”

It was late morning and already is was pretty hot and very sunny out. The water taxis are still not accessible so we had to wait around in the shopping village area not far from the pier until one of the few accessible land taxis showed up. After about an hour or so, the taxi arrived and took us to Philipsburg, which is on the southern end of the Dutch side of the island. It’s a quaint little town with all kinds of interesting shops, restaurants and bars; not to mention the fabulous beaches with pristine waters.


Ellen was in search of some tanzanite jewelry, which was being heavily promoted on the ship and on the island. On the ship you could get a certificate for some free earrings on the island, no doubt to get you into a jewelry store to be upsold to pricier merchandise.

For some reason, tanzanite had never hit my radar so I didn’t really know what it was until I studied it a bit. It’s a beautiful purple (yes my favorite color) gem that supposedly can only be obtained from Tanzania.

We went to the Diamond International store in Philipsburg and were immediately greeted by one of the sales staff. Ellen explained that she didn’t have the certificate with her but asked if she would get the free earrings anyway and also look at some of the merchandise. The salesperson agreed and began to show us some larger earrings that I believe were $199 a pair but would also include a ‘free’ necklace to match. Ellen was hesitant to commit to purchasing anything but I was encouraging her to do so, primarily for two reasons: 1.) she seldom buys nice jewelry and 2.) I would rather spend money here than go to the art auction on board ship the next day, where we would probably be constantly pressured to buy something. I really wanted to avoid that scene at all costs. I love art, I really do, but I still can’t get my head fully around the notion of spending $500 to $1,000 or more, for a lithograph.

Ellen was being shrewd and told the salesperson she really liked the earrings and necklace but wasn’t sure she should spend that kind of money. She told the salesperson we would leave, go somewhere to have a drink, and talk it over with one another. The salesperson said, “Oh you can have a drink here” and motioned toward a small bar setup toward the rear of the shop. I thought, “Oooh this is a great sales and marketing strategy. Don’t let them leave the store, get them buzzed on some good booze and then move in for the sales kill.” We were treated to a rather generous glass of Dewars on the rocks while we sat and looked at the jewelry and had the salesperson bring back other items to compare. Around this time I told Ellen that the salesperson spent quite a bit of time with us, gave us generous drinks and was clearly trying to get us to buy but without being ‘too’ pushy. I said we would look like schmucks if we walked out of there with nothing. I told her to go for it but also ask for another ‘free’ pair for me. Ellen agreed, the salesperson agreed and we made the purchase. The salesperson threw in some other trinkets too. All in all, I think everyone came away satisfied.

We left and continued to walk around Philipsburg, stopping in the occasional shops to look at merchandise. We stopped in one shop where I purchased a St. Maarten coffee mug for my collection. I think this was also the place where we spied some Cuban cigars in the back. I told Ellen we needed to get some for her cousin Sue and her husband, Bob. Now I wouldn’t know a good Cuban cigar even if I got one from Fidel himself so we went with the recommendations of the person in the shop and picked out an assortment. Hell, I wasn’t even sure if we could even get them back into the country but I was counting on the normalizing relations the US appears to be headed toward with Cuba (Note: we packed them in our luggage and no one asked or looked so they are here with us Sue and Bob!).

It was starting to get even hotter and Ellen was getting tired so we decided to find a restaurant to have lunch and drinks. We found our way to the stretch of restaurants facing the beach and were approached by this local who we learned was the maître d’ at the restaurant we were in front of called ‘Burger Madness’. He was telling us how good his burgers were and that he could get some guys to lift me and my chair up the steps and into the restaurant. We told him that was impossible (We’ve tried this before at a One-Eyed Doll concert in Pittsburgh and 5 guys practically had a hernia attempting to pick me and the chair up). We also said we didn’t eat meat (except for seafood) and he immediately came back with the fact they also offered veggie burgers. I thought, ‘damn this guy is good’. He then said he was still going to take care of us. This might have been the time he first called Ellen, ‘Baby Doll’. He said that about 4 or 5 times throughout our stay but it somehow didn’t come across as offensive. He motioned to some guy working the beach and told him to fetch one of the beach umbrellas, and bring his tool to poke a hole in the ground. He motioned this fella to the place he wanted the umbrella, had him set it up and then moved a couple tables and a chair under it for us. Okay we couldn’t refuse this hospitality so we agreed and had some menus brought over.

Now I’m real finicky about my veggie burgers so I wasn’t sure I wanted one but then I saw a section on the menu where they had about 4-5 seafood burgers. That really caught my attention and we decided to split an order of the mahi mahi burger, home made fries and a couple of drinks (We had ordered guava berry drinks with rum but we think they messed up the order and brought us something different. They still had rum in them so that was okay). I got to tell you, that was a best fucking burger I ever had in my life. To me  it rivaled any of the food on the ship and quite frankly, it was my favorite meal on this vacation. If we get back to St. Maarten again, I know where I’m going for lunch!


Not long before we left the restaurant, we spotted this contraption cruising by. I suppose it’s one way of burning off alcohol calories.

After lunch, we walked around some more and stopped at the church in town that has the statue of St. Maarten, the patron saint of Doc Maartens. Being an aging punk meself, I had Ellen snap a pic of the two of us.


After that, we walked back to the rendezvous location for the cab. I noticed a lot of people looking at my One-Eyed Doll shirt (Kimberly and Jason – if you notice an uptick in your Caribbean audience, you’re welcome!). The cab met us on time and took us back to the area by the pier. Not satisfied with our lunchtime drinks, we ordered two ‘good’ guava berry drinks with ample rum and sipped away until, regrettably, it was time to head back to the ship.

We get back on board around 4:00 PM but I was not hungry at all so I declined dinner, instead ordered a Long Island Iced Tea and sat on the balcony, reflecting on the great day we had. I watched the ship pull away from the harbor and then sail off to sea. This would be our last island stop but, as expected, it was our best island stop. I have to say, if it wasn’t for the fact that no band I like would probably make a tour stop there, I’d move to St. Maarten in a heartbeat. So long until next time, my sweet island gem.


Day Seven: Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

Today’s One-Eyed Doll t-shirt was the ‘Plumes Of Death’ t-shirt signed by Kimberly. Every day I notice people looking at the ‘shirt of the day’. Not many say anything but I know the imagery captures their attention.

I had trouble sleeping last night. I went to bed around 10:00 PM with the plan to get up early today. However, I woke up in the middle of the night with my pulse racing. I took an anti-anxiety pill to chill my ass out and it helped a bit but I still couldn’t fall back to sleep. My heart rate was still flying. It was then I remembered that I may not have taken my high blood pressure medication the day before. I immediately took my dose and in about 30 minutes I felt fine and was able to fall back to sleep. I woke up around 9:30 and felt fine. Note to self: Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you can forget your medications!

Today is a ‘Day At Sea’ day as the ship turned around yesterday evening and it now heading back to Ft. Lauderdale with no stops in between. Tonight is the second formal night at dinner so I have to get dressed up a bit.

I was sitting out on the balcony for about two hours or so but the sun is so bright and hot that I needed to come in twice to towel off the sweat. I decided to stay in the rest of the day until either some clouds showed up or the sun went down. I got to tell you though, it felt damn good sweating out all of those toxins that the body builds up.

At dinner, I had two lobsters and almost went for a third. I kept telling myself…they are practically bugs so eat and enjoy. It sucks having a conscience.

There is all kind of artwork all over the ship and much of it is very interesting and sometimes eclectic. Here is the painting that captivated me the most:

15It’s called “Habitat Diorama With Painkillers” ~ 1963 by Laurie Hogan. Among the psychedelic colored animals are all kinds of drug references.

Day Eight: Friday, Feb 27, 2015

Today is the last full day of the cruise. Today’s One-Eyed Doll t-shirt of the day is the ram’s skull t-shirt. This proved to be a really good one to capture people’s eyes.

This has been a fun cruise but it does feel right to end it about now. There are no more islands to explore, we visited all of the on board shops we cared to see and I never take in any of the on board shows – EVER. To me, they are all watered down (no pun intended) events marketed to the masses on board. Water shows, ice shows, lame family oriented films and a production of ‘Cats’, which you couldn’t even pay me to see it with the original Broadway cast. When I’m not on an island, I prefer to be alone on the balcony, looking at the endless expanse of sea while listening to good music or reading a good book.

The book for this cruise, ”The Moaning Of Life”, by Karl Pilkington was a great choice for me since he is as cynical as I am as he observes ‘society’ (though I didn’t finish the book before the end of the cruise). If you want to see the best and worst of people, please go on a cruise. You can witness the selfishness and gluttony of many of the passengers (It makes one think of the space ship in Wall-E) as well as the hard work and dedication to service of the crew. These people are great at what they do, day in and day out, all the while making us feel like we are royalty; while in the back of your mind you KNOW that many of them think many of us are scum. They are the best prostitutes on the planet!

It’s a bit after 3:30 PM. About 2 more hours until dinner, where we will have one more fine meal, make our goodbyes to our wait staff and tell them we will be back again (whether that is a true statement or not).

Tomorrow morning, we will all be herded off of the ship as quickly as possible, just in time for the crew to do a bit of housekeeping until the next wave of humanity arrives. They will make them feel equally as welcome as they made us feel.

As I said above, the whole thing reminds me of classy prostitution. You pay your fee up front for the time you plan to be there. They fawn all over you and may even be a little nicer to you if you throw a few more bones their way. But as soon as that time is up, it’s ‘Hurry up! Get dressed, pack up all your toys and get the fuck out of here! I’ve got another John coming today.’

Don’t get me wrong, I love doing this, I really do. It’s just that my tastes, opinions and outlook on life are so eclectic and cynical that there isn’t a cruise director on the seven seas who could keep me thoroughly entertained.

This is why I gravitate towards the island stops, the local cultures, the alien flora and fauna, and of course, the endless ocean. Seeing the big orange sun dip into the sea and later seeing the bright moon dancing through the clouds at night, reflecting on the water below, captivates me like nothing else can. It would take a pretty fucking talented cruise director to beat nature’s shit and I ain’t holding my breath on that one!


Day Nine: Saturday, Feb 28, 2015

Today’s One-Eyed Doll t-shirt is ‘Dirty’.

8:30 AM. Time to get kicked off of the ship. Once again, I had trouble sleeping last night. I went to bed around 10:00 PM and woke up a few hours later and never really slept much after that (Note To Self: Stop going to bed at fucking 10:00 PM!).

We had a quick breakfast at the Windjammer Marketplace and now we are back in the cabin to get cleaned up, do final packing, and then get off of the ship. After that, it’s wait for the cab to haul our sorry asses to the airport.

It’s cloudy and rainy here in Ft. Lauderdale right now. I had previously made the comment at breakfast that this storm was the ‘collective cloud hanging over all of the passengers heads since it’s now time to get back to reality’.

Today’s high in Richmond, Virginia is 33 degrees F. Freezing rain is in the forecast (Cue Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” about now!).

I went through the paperwork earlier back on the ship. It looks like our alcohol bill was under $500. That’s not bad though it doesn’t include all the drinks we had on the islands, as well as the 4 bottles of champagne we brought on board with us. My liver is like, “What the fuck kind of vacation was this?”



Robert Dada’s Top 10 Albums Of 2014

Posted: December 21, 2014 in Music
Tags: , ,

Okay, I’m not going to do a song by song breakdown on this list.  I’m simply going to tell you how each album has moved me. Do yourself a favor and buy every one of these. You know I’m right about every one of them.

#10 Lisa Gerrard – “Twilight Kingdom”

This is the perfect album to listen to at 3:23 AM in very low light with a head full of something numbing. Through each song, you are encouraged to contemplate final days slipping by like sand through your fingers.  If I first listen to Einsturzende Neubauten’s “Lament” (more on that below) as the World War 1 soldier who has been struck down by a bullet, shell fragment or poisonous gas, this album evokes my final thoughts as I leave this mortal coil. So fitting how this album relates to the other on this list. The Alpha and the Omega.


#9 Johnny Marr – “Playland”

This album and its predecessor, “The Messenger”, quickly reveals that Johnny Marr was the true beating heart and soul of The Smiths. Hearing these albums makes me sad that it took so long for him to enter into his extremely talented solo phase. Yes almost everyone will associate The Smiths with Morrissey but when you compare the two in their solo ventures, it’s clear that Johnny Marr was the driving force behind The Smiths. Morrissey has some interesting lyrics and knows how to present them vocally but without Johnny Marr, I think he would only be Boy George II. I can’t wait for Johnny’s next album.


#8 Bryan Ferry – “Avonmore”

I never expected Bryan Ferry to enter a top 10 list of mine in this decade but he nailed it on Avonmore. It’s his best stuff since Bete Noir and latter day Roxy Music work. He plays well with his limitations now that he is in his upper 60’s but God damn, he’s still so fucking suave and romantic. This is music to dance to with your significant other and hold them close afterward.


#7 Jack White – “Lazaretto”

There are those who take exception to Jack’s solo works when compared to his work with Meg in The White Stripes. On a superficial level I get it but for me The White Stripes are like Led Zeppelin I, II and III where Jack’s solo efforts are like Houses Of The Holy and Physical Graffiti. He sounds more confident on this album than he did on “Blunderbuss”, which is also a strong album. After this album, I get the feeling we’ve yet to witness his true solo greatness but we will soon enough. In the meantime, we got this slab of hot shit blues based, roots rock. He may indeed be Rock ‘n’ Roll’s last superstar.


#6 Peter Murphy – “Lion”

Don’t get me wrong, I really loved the “Ninth” album and I loved hearing it live on tour. But with “Lion”, Peter has captured energy and excitement that I haven’t seen since Bauhaus. The sweeping and soaring rhythms and choruses are breathtaking. Maybe the 35th Bauhaus Anniversary Tour infused something into these performances because this is some of his highest energy and greatest creative work since “Burning From The Inside” and “The Sky’s Gone Out” from Bauhaus.


#5 Aphex Twin – “Syro”

This is intelligent techno music that you can easily move to and just as easily think through. This is Richard D. James masterpiece. If he never does another thing, this will be known as his finest work.

At points it almost sounds like aliens have been monitoring human techno music, then have processed and regurgitated it back as their reinterpretation. We then call them hymns we pray to.

At other times, it’s late at night on a very lonely freeway and I’m flying above the speed limit in a high performance car as the rain drops roll off of my polished windshield as if gravity doesn’t exist.

And I’m also thinking about how the Overlords have taken possession of Earth and have been reprogramming us to be their techno dance drones.

In control and enslaved at the same time. That’s a brilliant album.


#4 Swans – “To Be Kind”

This might be the most organic and visceral albums on the list. The sounds are hypnotic, rhythmic and noisy; with odd music patterns swirling in and around each other. A track here and there reminds you of being in a paranoiac dream you are incapable of escaping from. Other tracks are long, thick and drawn out like the thick blood oozing out of a junky’s arm.

It’s very much like grooving deep inside of a nightmare you know you will never wake from and that fuels the dark erotic pleasure absent of all sex.

Certain passages evoke the Summer sun and makes me want to dissolve and sit underneath it and nibble peyote until everything evaporates away.

The album on balance, reminds me of Apocalypse Now in Afghanistan. The past is present.  Will it be the future?


#3 St. Vincent – “St. Vincent”

I’m ashamed that I did not know of Annie Clark, aka, St. Vincent, prior to seeing her open for The Black Keys on Dec 6th. She gives me great hope for contemporary  music. I would have paid double the ticket price to see her performance alone.   She has a masterful stage presence and her guitar prowess is awe inspiring. As soon as I got home, I bought this album and another. She is the one to watch going forward. Lady Gaga is old hat. Annie Clark has the charisma, the musical ability, the vocal style and the sharp songwriting skills that creates a superstar. Look out Bjork; there’s a new kid in town and she’s got everything on you. This is my biggest surprise favorite of 2014!


#2 Chrome – “Feel It Like A Scientist”

I really believe that the band’s re-imagining of the songs that would emerge on last year’s , “Half Machine Lips From The Sun”; older tracks from the bands classic early 80’s period of “Half machine Lip Moves” and “3rd From The Sun”; really inspired this work.  “Feel It Like A Scientist” feels like they picked up right where the band left off in the early 80’s but the album doesn’t feel dated at all because back in the 80’s they were decades ahead of their time. I sooo much wanted to give this #1 and I almost did but one other band had to go on and beat this. Still, buy this album and listen to it daily. You won’t regret it. If you like punk or proto-punk, ala The Stooges and dark science fiction, then this is right up your Replicant alley.


#1 Einsturzende Neubauten – “Lament”

Okay, this album is about World War One, released during the centennial of that horrific war, by the preeminent true industrial (influenced by Dada) band, Einsturzende Neubauten. Once you combine true industrial music, the most disgusting war of all time and the most controversial art movement of all time, then you got all of my f’ing attention.  You can keep your Tommy and Quadrophenia  (great though they are), Lament is the powerhouse of all concept albums. The last time I was this moved by music was in grade school when I first heard “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Magical Mystery Tour”. “Lament” once again reshapes how I view musical art and it has thoroughly lodged itself into the top 10 albums that have influenced my life the most! I don’t say that lightly. Bravo Blixa Bargeld and gang. I’ve loved you for decades but this album has simply awed me beyond belief. All I can say is, thank you forever. Easily in the top 10 of best albums I have ever heard in my entire life!


Honorable Mentions:

  1. The Black Keys – “Turn Blue”
  2. Robyn Hitchcock – “The Man Upstairs”
  3. Eno-Hyde – “Someday World
  4. Primus – “Primus And The Chocolate Factory”
  5. Brian Setzer – “Rockabilly Riot! All Original”
  6. Echo & The Bunnymen – “Meteorites”
  7. Matias Aguayo – “Legende”
  8. Dum Dum Girls – “Too True”
  9. Damien Jurado – “Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son (Deluxe Version)”
  10. Prong – “Ruining Lives”
  11. Rodrigo y Gabriela – “9 Dead Alive”
  12. Jason D. Williams – “Hillbillies And Holy Rollers”


1 Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon from The John Lennon Collection
2 Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Alice Cooper from We Wish You A Metal Xmas…And A Headbanging New Year!
3 White Christmas – Iggy Pop from White Christmas
4 Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues from If I Should Fall From Grace With God
5 Linus & Lucy (Charlie Brown Christmas Theme) – Geoff Downes from Christmas Rocks!
6 Christmas Tree Boogie – The Swing Cats feat. Slim Jim Phantom of Stray Cats from Rockabilly Blues Christmas
7 Merry Christmas Baby – Chuck Berry from Rock & Roll Christmas
8 Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight) – The Ramones from Brain Drain
9 Winter Wonderland – Ozzy Osbourne & Jessica Simpson from Winter Wonderland
10 Carol Of The Bells – Chrome from Dark Matter: Seeing Strange Lights
11 Feliz Navidad – Los Straitjackets from Tis The Season For Los Straitjackets
12 Medley: Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby & David Bowie from Bing Crosby: Christmas Classics
13 Little Drummer Boy/Silent Night/Auld Lang Syne – Jimi Hendrix from Merry Christmas And Happy New Year
14 Jingle Bells – Brian Setzer Orchestra from Christmas Rocks: The Best Of Collection
15 Oh Come All Ye Faithful – Twisted Sister from A Twisted Christmas
16 The Nutcracker Suite (Operatica’s Nutcrackeratica Mix) – Berlin Symphony Orchestra from Holiday Chill – The Christmas Remixes
17 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Rock This Town from Rockabilly Christmas
18 Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Elvis Presley from Rockin`Christmas (Merry Christmas With Elvis And His Friends)
19 Zat You Santa Claus – Buster Poindexter And His Banshees Of Blue from How Cool Is That Christmas
20 Must Be Santa – Bob Dylan from Christmas In The Heart
21 Run Rudolph Run – Keith Richards / Toots & The Maytals from Run Rudolph Run / Pressure Drop
22 Red Water (Christmas Mourning) – Type O Negative from October Rust
23 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Ronnie James Dio from We Wish You A Metal Xmas…And A Headbanging New Year!
24 Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Reverend Horton Heat from We Three Kings: Christmas Favorites
25 Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses from The Best Of The Waitresses
26 Silent Night – Lloyd Brown from A Reggae Christmas
27 Christmas Time Again – Bad Manners from Bollocks To Christmas
28 Merry Christmas Fritz – Buff Medways from A Damaged Christmas Gift To You
29 Stuff The Turkey – Alien Sex Fiend from Bollocks To Christmas
30 Switched On Sugar Plum Fairies – Lucky Wander Boy from Music Of Christmas Future
31 City Of Christmas Ghosts – Goldblade featuring Poly Styrene from A Damaged Christmas Gift To You
32 Christmas Is For Everyone – James Brown from Disco Christmas
33 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – The Pretenders from Pretenders Holiday EP
34 Silver Bells – Cuckooland from A Damaged Christmas Gift To You
35 Blue Christmas – Johnny Cash from Christmas With Johnny Cash
36 You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Asylum Street Spankers from A Christmas Spanking
37 Sleigh Ride – Squirrel Nut Zippers from Christmas Caravan
38 Santa Dog ’88 – The Residents from Santa Dog ’88
39 Hark The Herald Angels Sing – Eros from Christmas Regrooved
40 Good King Wenceslas – Jay Atwood from Christmas Regrooved
41 We Wish You A Merry Christmas – Analogue Model from Music Of Christmas Future
42 Winter Wonderland – Beat Dominator from Have A Very Bass Christmas
43 Away In A Manger – D1 Music Club from Christmas 3
44 The Twelve Days Of Christmas – The Joseph and Mary Chain from It’s Not Like Christmas
45 Auld Lang Syne – UK Subs from Bollocks To Christmas
46 Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis – Tom Waits from Blue Valentine


1 Back Door Santa – B.B. King from Best Of / 20th Century – Christmas
2 Jingle Bell Rock – The Swing Cats feat. Slim Jim Phantom of Stray Cats from Rockabilly Blues Christmas
3 Hoy, Hoy, Hoy (Rockin’ On Christmas Eve) – The Honeydippers from Rockabilly Blues Christmas
4 Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me) – Elvis Presley from The King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Complete 50’s Masters [Disc 3]
5 White Christmas – Bob Marley And The Wailers from Destiny: Rare Ska Sides From Studio 1
6 One Christmas Catalogue – Captain Sensible from One Christmas Catalogue
7 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – The Fall from The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004
8 Father Christmas – The Kinks from Father Christmas
9 I Believe In Father Christmas – Theme From Sleigh Ride To The Winter Palace – Greg Lake from The Greatest Christmas Songs
10 Thank God It’s Christmas – Queen from The Platinum Collection, Vol. 1-3 Disc 3
11 The Nutcracker Suite – Brian Setzer Orchestra from Christmas Rocks: The Best Of Collection
12 Rock ‘N Roll Christmas – George Thorogood And The Destroyers from A Rock ‘N Roll Christmas
13 Won’t Be Home For Christmas – Blink 182 from Won’t Be Home For Christmas
14 Deck The Halls – Twisted Sister from A Twisted Christmas
15 Carol Of The Bells – August Burns Red from Lost Messengers: The Outtakes
16 Christmas At Sea – Sting from If On A Winter’s Night…
17 That Was The Worst Christmas Ever! – Sufjan Stevens from Songs For Christmas [Disc 1]
18 I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day – Johnny Cash from Christmas With Johnny Cash
19 Sleigh Bell Rock – Rock This Town from Rockabilly Christmas
20 Can You Hear What I Hear – Steve Stevens from Merry Axemas
21 Don’t Shoot Me Santa – The Killers from Don’t Shoot Me Santa
22 Jilly’s On Smack – Primus from Green Naugahyde
23 Christmas At The Zoo – The Flaming Lips from Clouds Taste Metallic
24 I Wish It Was Christmas Today – Julian Casablancas from I Wish It Was Christmas Today
25 Christmastime – The Smashing Pumpkins from Christmastime
26 We Three Kings – Reverend Horton Heat from We Three Kings: Christmas Favorites
27 Watch Out! Santa’s Been Drinking – Tiger City Jukes from Christmas In Bluestown
28 Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Gary Twinn from Rockabilly Blues Christmas
29 Mr. Heatmiser – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy from Everything You Want For Christmas
30 Hot Christmas – Squirrel Nut Zippers from Christmas Caravan
31 Red Nosed Reindeer Blues – Asylum Street Spankers from A Christmas Spanking
32 Lonely Lonely Christmas – Willie Hill from Ichiban Blues At Christmas Vol. 3
33 New Year’s Eve – Tom Waits from Bad As Me (Deluxe Version)


1 The Rockin’ Night Before Christmas – The Honeydippers from Swing Cats Christmas
2 Run Rudolph Run – Reverend Horton Heat from We Three Kings: Christmas Favorites
3 White Christmas – Slim Jim Phantom of Stray Cats, The Swing Cats from Rockabilly Blues Christmas
4 Don’t Believe In Christmas – The Tabaltix from Psychobilly Christmas
5 There Ain’t No Sanity Clause – The Damned from There Ain’t No Sanity Clause
6 It’s Always Christmas Time – Buck Santa from It’s Always Christmas Time
7 Silver Bells – Twisted Sister from A Twisted Christmas
8 Holiday Fortnight (2002 Digital Remaster) – The Specials from Alternative Rock X-mas
9 God Rock You Steady Gentleman – The Toasters from Christma-ska
10 Skank ‘Til Christmas – The Selecter from A Christmas Fable
11 It’s Christmas – Toots And The Maytals from It’s Christmas
12 The Night Before Christmas – Eek-A-Mouse from A Reggae Christmas
13 We Three Kings – Los Straitjackets from Yuletide Beat
14 Come On! Let’s Boogey To The Elf Dance! – Sufjan Stevens from Songs For Christmas [Disc 1]
15 It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Scott Weiland from The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
16 Christmas As I Knew It – Johnny Cash from Christmas With Johnny Cash
17 Merry Christmas Baby – Elvis Presley from Elvis Christmas
18 Silent Night – Stevie Nicks from A Very Special Christmas
19 Jingle Bell Rock – Billy Idol from Happy Holidays (A Very Special Christmas Album)
20 Boogie Woogie Santa Claus – Brian Setzer Orchestra from Christmas Rocks: The Best Of Collection
21 Rockabilly Christmas – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy from Everything You Want For Christmas
22 Winter Weather – Squirrel Nut Zippers from Christmas Caravan
23 Linus And Lucy – Béla Fleck & The Flecktones from Jingle All the Way
24 Blue Christmas – Cyndi Lauper from Blue Christmas
25 Winter Wonderland – Eurythmics from A Very Special Christmas
26 Carol Of The Bells – Linnear from Music Of Christmas Future
27 O Tannenbaum – DJ Scotty Marz from Christmas Regrooved
28 Twelve Days Of Christmas – D1 Music Club from Christmas 3
29 Jingle Bells – DJ Maverick from Hardcore X-Mas Party – Hallelujahhh It’s Christmas
30 Deck The Halls – St. Amanita from Music Of Christmas Future
31 Sleigh Ride – Mr. Bassman from Have A Very Bass Christmas
32 We Wish You A Merry Xmas – Joseph Jaime from Christmas Regrooved
33 Hark The Herald Angels Sing – APM Holiday Ensemble from An Electronic Christmas – Digital Sounds of the Season
34 Let It Snow – Luscious Jackson from Alternative Rock X-mas
35 Little Drummer Boy – The Dandy Warhols from Alternative Rock X-mas
36 When I Get Home For Christmas – Snow Patrol from When I Get Home For Christmas
37 Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – U2 from A Very Special Christmas
38 Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – The Alarm from Alternative Rock X-mas
39 The Christmas Blues – Bob Dylan from Christmas In The Heart
40 Soulful Christmas – James Brown from 20th Century Masters: The Christmas Collection: James Brown
41 Christmas Celebration – The Fabulous Thunderbirds from Classic Rock Christmas
42 Kitty Cats’ Christmas – Leon Redbone from Christmas Island
43 Far Away Christmas Blues – Asylum Street Spankers from A Christmas Spanking
44 It’s Bad To Have The Blues (At Christmas Time) – Charlie Daniels from Merry Christmas To All
45 Auld Lang Syne – B.B. King from Best Of / 20th Century – Christmas


1 Last Night (I Went Out With Santa Claus) – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy from Everything You Want For Christmas
2 Please Come Home For Christmas – Jon Bon Jovi from A Very Special Christmas – Essential
3 Christmas Is Near – Ralph Stanley from A Very Special Acoustic Christmas
4 Christmas In Dreadland – Judge Dread from Bollocks To Christmas
5 Have A Boom Boom Christmas – Freddy Cannon from Have a Rockabilly Christmas
6 Santa – Lightnin’ Hopkins from Blues, Boogie & Rhythm Christmas
7 O Little Town of Bethlehem – Elvis Presley from The King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Complete 50’s Masters [Disc 3]
8 Signs Of Christmas – James Brown from 20th Century Masters: The Christmas Collection: James Brown
9 Run Rudolph Run – Sheryl Crow from A Very Special Christmas – Essential
10 I Want You For Christmas – Cheap Trick from A Very Special Christmas 25th Anniversary
11 Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer – The Smithereens from Alternative Rock X-mas
12 Santa Drives A Hot Rod – Brian Setzer Orchestra from Christmas Rocks: The Best Of Collection
13 Rock Around The Christmas Tree – Big Bud from Rockabilly Christmas
14 Christmas In New Orleans – Louis Armstrong from Blues, Boogie & Rhythm Christmas
15 Happy Christmas – Toots And The Maytals from Christmas Specials
16 A Christmas Fable – The Selecter from A Christmas Fable
17 The Little Drummer – Boy Sufjan Stevens from Songs For Christmas [Disc 2]
18 Please Come Home For Christmas – Willie Nelson from A Very Special Acoustic Christmas
19 Frosty The Snowman – Reverend Horton Heat from We Three Kings: Christmas Favorites
20 Christmas Blues – Canned Heat from Christmas Blues
21 Jingle Bells Boogie – Jody Levins from Rockabilly Christmas
22 Silent Night – Johnny Cash from Christmas With Johnny Cash
23 I Saw Three Ships – Sting from A Very Special Christmas – Essential
24 War Is Over – The Toasters from Christma-ska
25 I Told Santa Claus – Fats Domino from Christmas Is A Special Day
26 Jingle Bells Earl Scruggs from A Very Special Acoustic Christmas
27 Danse Of The Sugar Plum Fairies from Béla Fleck & The Flecktones Jingle All The Way
28 Under The Christmas Tree The Honeydippers from Swing Cats Christmas
29 Merry Christmas Everybody 4-Skins from Nevermind Christmas, Here’s The Bollocks!
30 At The Christmas Ball Bessie Smith from American Blues Christmas
31 Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas) The Decemberists from Alternative Rock X-mas
32 Merry Christmas, Baby Asylum Street Spankers from A Christmas Spanking
33 Gift Of The Magi Squirrel Nut Zippers from Christmas Caravan
34 Here Is Christmas Heart from A Lovemonger’s Christmas
35 Snowman Anti-Nowhere League from Nevermind Christmas, Here’s The Bollocks!
36 I’m Getting Pissed For Christmas Bamboula from Psychobilly Christmas
37 Empty Stocking Blues Floyd Dixon from Rockin’ Blues Christmas
38 That Old Christmas Moon Leon Redbone from Christmas Island
39 Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Rod Stewart from A Very Special Christmas – Essential
40 We Wish You A Merry Christmas The RAS Family from A Reggae Christmas
41 Santa Claus, Santa Claus Louis Jordan from Blues, Boogie & Rhythm Christmas
42 I Hate To See Xmas Come Around (Christmas Blues) Jimmy Witherspoon from Rockin’ Blues Christmas
43 The Day It Snowed Amusement Parks On Fire ft. Leila Moss from It’s Not Like Christmas
44 Step Into Christmas Business from Nevermind Christmas, Here’s The Bollocks!
45 Silent Night Rock Los Straitjackets from Yuletide Beat
46 Auld Lang Syne The Reducers from Auld Lang Syne – Single
47 Happy New Year Blues Mary Harris from American Blues Christmas

2014 Holiday Playlist

Posted: November 30, 2014 in Holidays, Music

Here’s this year’s holiday playlist:
1 Gettin’ In The Mood (For Christmas) – Brian Setzer Orchestra from Christmas Rocks: The Best Of Collection
2 Christmas Is Starting Now – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy from It Feels Like Christmas Time
3 Carolina Christmas – Squirrel Nut Zippers from Christmas Caravan
4 Linus And Lucy – Asylum Street Spankers from A Christmas Spanking
5 Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time! – Sufjan Stevens from Songs For Christmas [Disc 2]
6 Santa On The Roof – Reverend Horton Heat from We Three Kings: Christmas Favorites
7 Christmas Without You – The Triggers from Psychobilly Christmas
8 You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Misfits from Horror Xmas
9 Halloween On Xmas – The Coffin Caddies from Psychobilly Christmas
10 Shot My Baby For Christmas – The Vaudevilles from Psychobilly Christmas
11 Candy Cane Children – The White Stripes from Candy Cane Children – Single
12 Christmas – The Who from Tommy
13 O Holy Night – Gothic Vampires From Hell from Nightmare Before Christmas
14 The Christmas Song – London After Midnight from Oddities
15 Ghosts Of Christmas Past – Nox Arcana from Winter’s Knight
16 Making Christmas – String Tribute Players from String Tribute To Nightmare Before Christmas
17 Seasoned Greetings – The Residents from Meet the Residents
18 The Spirit Of Christmas – Martin Atkins & The Chicago Industrial League from An Industrial Christmas Carol
19 Carol Of The Bells (A Demonic Christmas) – D.J. Demonixx Various Artists – StreetBeat from Acid X-mas
20 Nutcracker Suite (Dance Of The Funky D.J.’s) – Various Artists – StreetBeat from Acid X-mas
21 We Wish You A Techno X-Mas – Dave Miller, L.A. Tom from Techno Christmas: Dancefloor Holiday Favorites
22 Christmas Techno – Rivans from Christmas Techno
23 Auld Lang Syne – Various from Christmas Regrooved Part 2